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A CROSS-SECTIONAL STUDY ON DENTAL HEALTH CARE KNOWLEDGE, ATTITUDES AND PRACTICE AMONG UNIVERSITY OF NAIROBI MEDICAL STUDENTS

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The study done was a knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) study on University of Nairobi medical students. The 1st and 2nd years students were excluded from the study because of lack 0 clinical exposures. A total of 120 respondents were interviewed, but only 110 were analyzed. This gave a response rate of92%. The male to female ratio was 3:1 (75.5%: 24.5%). There is general lack of knowledge on major dental diseases namely dental caries and periodontal diseases. This is aggravated by poor attitude towards dental treatment and regular dental check-ups. This eventually leads to poor practices including dietary habits and oral heath care seeking habits. Few studies have been done on medical students. Medical students are supposed to be knowledgeable on certain aspects of Dentistry so that this would help in general management of patients' problems, identification of problems, handling dental emergencies and instituting necessary referrals.
The main objective was to determine their knowledge on causes, presentation, prevention and consequences of periodontal diseases, attitudes and practices among medical students.
This was a descriptive cross-sectional study using questionnaire methods among 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th year medical students who are based in medical school campus of the University of Nairobi located in Kenyatta National Hospital.
The results showed about 98% knew of periodontal disease as disease affecting gums while 47% thought that periodontal disease was caused by failure to brush teeth. Only 11.8% related periodontal disease to calculus or tartar. 36.4% of the respondents did not know of how periodontal disease can be prevented. However, they appeared more knowledgeable on dental caries with 90% ascribing to taking sweets and 82.7% to taking sugary foods. This could be because all of the respondents fell in the 20-30 years of age group and dental caries affects them more than periodontal diseases. Of all, 67.3% said one could keep teeth for lifetime with 27% preferring an extraction if they had cavities or dental caries. About 91.8% said it was necessary to go for routine checkups. However, only 48.2% had visited a dentist and of these 60% had because of toothache. Only 5.7% had gone for dental checkups. Therefore medical students have an average good level of knowledge on dental health care, but there is need to make it better. Their practices were generally poor and I would therefore recommend that dental health be introduced and incorporated in the teaching of medicine, which would go a long way in improving their patient management.

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